Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Rush Cataloging site update

It's been over two years since we started the Rush Cataloging service, so it seemed like time to give the site a little revamp. The content of the site is still the same, though I've pared it down and hopefully made it a little easier to navigate.

What is this rush cataloging service, you say? It's a remote cataloging service, a way for Jeffcat to create full records for books (or DVDs, curriculum materials, what-have-you) you receive that you need to circulate right away but that don't have records in TLC already. Basically you give us information about the item through a Google form, and we use that info to create a record. The form even includes the barcode number, so once we've cataloged it, it's ready to check in and circulate at your location. With this service, we limit the number of on-the-fly records cluttering up the database, and you get full cataloging in a timely manner. We usually manage a same-day turn around time. (Remember you can still use OTFs for equipment.)

And apparently the service is filling a growing need. The first year (2011) we had 315 requests; last year we had 520. This year we're already up to 106. We're glad to find the service is useful. Keep 'em coming!

Now for the more-than-you-ever-wanted-know-about-cataloging portion of this post. The reason we can offer this service is that we subscribe to a ginormous international database called OCLC (you've probably heard of the public version, WorldCat). Libraries and book vendors all over the world contribute to this database, which to date contains 288,372,962 records and 1,966,035,857 holdings (records=discrete titles; holdings=each library that owns a copy of a title). Is that what trillions looks like? Yikes! So when you send us the information for a book, we look it up in this gigantic database (usually by ISBN), and usually we find it. Someone else has already done the hard work of the original cataloging; we just pull the record into our database, make sure it looks spiffy, and add your barcode to it. Pretty slick, huh?

Now it does happen that sometimes we don't find a match in OCLC. Hard to believe, with those billion-trillion records, but it's true. Most of the time the item is some kind of curriculum material or one of those pesky Scholastic sold-only-at-bookfairs books. When we don't find a match in OCLC, we can often cobble together a record using publishers' websites, previous editions, or additional information from you. On rare occasions, we just get stumped and have to ask you to send us the item. But rarely! We're pretty good at sleuthing. It's all part of the cataloging magic.

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